How Sharks' Martin Jones went from undrafted prospect to NHL goalie


How Sharks' Martin Jones went from undrafted prospect to NHL goalie

Hockey runs in Martin Jones' family.

His father, Harvey, has been a member of the Vancouver Canucks organization for over 25 years, overseeing the construction of Rogers Arena and currently serving as the Vice President of Construction for Canucks Sports and Entertainment. That connection has had its benefits.

Harvey estimates Martin was exposed to the NHL once or twice a week while growing up. He attended numerous games and spent time in Vancouver's locker room. His teammate -- and fellow goalie -- happened to be the son of Marc Crawford, who was the Canucks head coach at the time. Crawford was able to pull some strings and get both young netminders some ice time with Vancouver's goalie coach, Ian Clark.

"It was a pretty privileged youth for Martin," Harvey told NBC Sports California with a laugh, "being able to hang around the NHL team at that time."

While Martin showed promise as a hockey goalie from a young age, he also was a talented golfer, soccer and baseball player. But when he was forced to specialize in one sport, he elected to pursue hockey. Clearly, that decision has paid off.

"With hockey, he got into fairly high-level programs and played with other really high-level kids and was competing at that level," Harvey recalled. "You go stage by stage and he goes from one level to the next, and you think, 'Well, the guys the next year older -- they're way too good. I don't know how he'll be able to compete at that level.' But the next year he would move up and he'd be able to compete at that level again, so you just keep going, year by year. Pretty soon, he was playing junior hockey and doing very well, and you start thinking maybe there's a chance."

Harvey can pinpoint the exact moment that inkling of hope gained some momentum.

"He went as a 16-year-old, he went to Calgary to play junior hockey in the Western Hockey League for the Calgary Hitmen," Harvey described. "The second year, we went to training camp and I remember after practice ... Kelly Kisio was the coach and he was doing a media interview and somebody brought up Martin to Kelly, and Kelly's response was, 'One day he'll get paid to play this game.'

"That was kind of the first time when I thought, 'Wow, you know, maybe there might be a chance.'"

Kisio wasn't the only one who took notice of Jones, as his Hitmen teammates can attest to.

Brendan Rowinski, who was Jones' roommate while both played for the Hitmen, recalls a conversation with his own father following his first season as Martin's teammate in Calgary.

"If I had to pick one guy on our team who's going to make it," Rowinksi remembers saying, "I think it's going to be Martin Jones."

Rowinski told NBC Sports California that while Jones always has been big, agile and rarely out of position, it is his work ethic that has separated him from the pack.

"He was always the first one on the ice and the last one off, and he always loved being out there," Rowinski remembered. "Always having a good time. A lot of goalies, they don't want to stay for the hard work after practice and shootouts are tough on goalies, but Jonesy was always staying out there and having fun with us."

Bostjan Golicic, another of Jones' Hitmen teammates, added consistency to the list of his best attributes.

"It was hard to score on him because of his size, his ability to move side-to-side and because he is really good at reading the game," Golicic said of Jones. "I think that's one of his biggest strengths. Another is his mental game. He was very consistent for us all of the years, and that helped us win many games."

Unfortunately for Jones, he was stuck behind an older goaltender for his first two seasons with the Hitmen, so when the 2008 NHL Draft came around, he didn't hear his name called.

In a fortuitous surprise, though, he received an invite to attend the Los Angeles Kings' rookie camp that fall. When LA began sending a lot of the undrafted rookies back to their junior teams, Jones was kept around. He remained with the Kings into training camp, and at the end of September, they signed him.

Jones then went back to the Hitmen for two seasons, where he experienced tremendous success. He then played for Team Canada in the World Juniors before moving on to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, where he continued to pay his dues for three seasons. When Kings starting netminder Jonathan Quick went down with an injury during the 2013-14 NHL season, Jones finally got the opportunity he long had awaited for.

And boy did he capitalize on it.

Jones won his first eight starts with Los Angeles, including three shutouts. He appeared in 19 games (18 starts) during the regular season, posting a 12-6-0 record with a .934 save percentage and 1.81 goals-against average before sliding back behind Quick upon his recovery. The Kings, of course, would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season.

Jones started 15 games as Quick's backup the following season, but upon reaching restricted free agency, he was hoping for a fresh start somewhere else with Quick having the starting spot locked down. LA traded Jones to Boston, but that wasn't any better of a situation for him. Then, Doug Wilson and the Sharks pulled a fast one, acquiring Jones in a trade with the Bruins just days later. Upon arriving in San Jose, Jones was the clear-cut starter.

The rest, as they say, is history for the Shark of the Day.

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Over five seasons with the Sharks, Jones has gone 148-95-22 with a .909 save percentage and 2.58 goals-against average. After winning the Cup in his first season with the Kings, he nearly did the same with San Jose, but Sidney Crosby and the Penguins had to spoil that.

"When Jonesy is playing his best, his demeanor on the ice, how comfortable he is around the puck, how quiet he is in terms of the movements and his rebound control, how sharp he is ... you can see it, the team feeds off of him," Sharks goaltending scout and development coach Evgeni Nabokov said. "It's great to watch him sometimes when he's on his game."

Looking back on the career his son has had to this point, Harvey is quite proud of all of Martin's on-ice accomplishments. But they pale in comparison to another one of his personal achievements.

"He has always been a real serious kid, very focused and just a really good person," Harvey described his son. "I think, for me, the most important thing is I think he's a really good teammate. For me, that's more important than the success on the ice, is being a good teammate."

Sharks continue to suffer from lack of scoring, abundance of penalties


Sharks continue to suffer from lack of scoring, abundance of penalties

Evander Kane called it "interesting." Head coach Peter DeBoer called it "messy." No matter what word you choose, everyone can agree that the Sharks' 3-1 loss to the Predators on Tuesday got downright ugly.

San Jose had what was probably its best defensive game of the month in Nashville, being stingy and not giving the opposing Preds a lot of room to work. But with a scoreless tie after two periods, tempers began to fly, and what followed was a tsunami of penalties that ultimately determined the Sharks' fate.

The Sharks felt like they were in this one. But a plethora of penalties late in the second period and early in the third changed that. A whopping 39 penalty minutes later, San Jose had dropped the fourth and final game of its road trip. 

"We're still taking too many penalties," DeBoer told reporters after the loss. "I thought we pressed really hard in the second, didn't give them anything. I thought we deserved to be up going into the third and we didn't get rewarded for the work in the second. And they're at home, I thought they pushed hard. Pushed us back early in the third, got us on our heels a little bit. Really, when you get into a game like that, whoever scores first is probably going to win."

San Jose actually went on the penalty kill just 47 seconds into the game when Barclay Goodrow went to the box for slashing. But the real wave of penalties came late in the second period after Goodrow and Calle Jarnkrok received matching minors. Tempers were unhinged from that point on -- heck even the officials were fired up, as the microphone caught one using explicit language while reprimanding Nashville's Roman Josi. 

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The biggest tussle, however, took place in the final seconds of the second period when Dan Hamhuis cross-checked Kane and then Auston Watson jumped in as the third man in. Though Kane was defending himself, the officials tagged him with 19 penalty minutes, essentially taking him out of the remainder of the contest. 

"I don't understand the 19 minutes and how that was made up," Kane remarked when asked about the scuffle. "There was a lot of that all night going back and forth."

"Tough for him to sit for that long," DeBoer said in Kane's defense. "Hamhuis started the whole thing and then Watson comes in and grabs him and we end up with the short end of it. But it's a messy situation, I'm not going to second guess the call."

Regardless of how many penalties the Sharks racked up, they still needed to find a way to score more goals. They only found the back of the net once Tuesday, and only scored once in each of their previous two games. Despite doing some good work in the offensive zone, San Jose isn't going to reap the rewards without scoring goals to make up for its mistakes.

"You've got to find a way to win and we've got to find a way to score," DeBoer summarized. "I think that's the story of the trip."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in contentious 3-1 loss to Predators


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in contentious 3-1 loss to Predators


It wasn't full of offensive firepower, but what Tuesday's game between the Sharks and Predators lacked in goals, it made up for with flying fists.

Unfortunately, despite the fiery matchup and an entertaining “hot mic” moment, San Jose still couldn’t find a way to turn its fortunes around. The Sharks concluded their battle at Bridgestone Arena with a 3-1 loss, ending their road trip without a single win.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday's game:

A plethora of penalties

With the game scoreless through the first two periods, the two sides became visibly agitated with one another. But rather than take out their frustrations out on the scoreboard, they took it out on each other. By the end of second stanza, the Sharks led the charge with 31 penalty minutes to Nashville’s 29.

While the Preds were the ones with multiple players simultaneously in the sin bin, it was Sharks winger Evander Kane who racked up a staggering 19 penalty minutes resulting from a tussle with Nashville's Auston Watson. Being without the power forward for almost the entire third period visibly took its toll on San Jose, which continued its dance in and out of the box into the third frame.

The PK was overworked 

San Jose's league-leading penalty kill wasn't its normal self last weekend, but it looked strong and sturdy Tuesday night in Nashville. It was a good thing, too, considering how many times the Sharks found themselves shorthanded, particularly early on.

Unfortunately, the abundance of penalties eventually wore San Jose’s PK down and Nashville was able to find the back of the net on a power play with less than 10 minutes left to play. It's been said before, but clearly it needs to be said again: The Sharks need to clean their game up and give the penalty kill a break so they don’t burn out.

[RELATED: Sharks' Simek to miss two weeks for minor knee procedure]

A better goalie matchup 

One of San Jose's biggest problems over the course of the road trip was that Martin Jones was outplayed by the netminder on the other end of the ice. That was not the case Tuesday night in Nashville, as Jones and Juuse Saros traded off making big saves up until Nick Bonino put the Predators up 1-0 in the third frame.

Jones had a particularly nice sprawling save on a four-minute penalty kill in the first period, which could have put the Sharks in a 1-0 hole pretty quickly. Perhaps the standard is too low for a team of San Jose's talent level, but after the rough weekend the Sharks had, they deserve credit for getting out of the first period with a scoreless tie. Avoiding an early deficit clearly gave San Jose a boost of energy, which persisted throughout the game. Well, at least until all of the fights started.